Autism and Vaccines: Facts and Fiction

Are you the parent of a small child, or planning on parenthood? If so, one decision you’ll come across as you bring your newborn home will be if and when to get your child vaccinated.

Unfortunately, a lot of concern and fear surrounds the topic of vaccines, especially as many individuals believe that vaccines cause autism (scientifically known as autism spectrum disorder, a group of complex disorders of brain development).

Autism affects many individuals in the United States, and children can be diagnosed with autism at a very young age. Despite the prevalence of autism among children in the United States, there is no scientific link between vaccines and autism. Studies have shown that vaccines do not cause autism.

So what’s all the confusion? Learn more below, and let your concerns about getting your child vaccinated be eased.

The Origin of the Autism and Vaccine Link

In 1998, British researcher Andrew Wakefield and his partner researchers published a case series that suggested the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine resulted in behavioral and developmental issues in small children, implicating vaccinations as a cause for autism (then diagnosed in some cases as Asperger’s syndrome).

Though the study was done in an uncontrolled fashion, with a limited sample size from which to draw conclusions, its conclusions were widely reported and immediately caused fear among parents and a decline in vaccinations.

Immediately upon the release of the report, scientists did many more studies and released results that consistently showed Wakefield et. al.’s analysis was incorrect.

Reviews later would find that the report included fraudulent actions, including unreported financial interests, problematic and invasive tests on children, and falsified results. The report was fully retracted by The Lancet, the medically peer-reviewed general medical journal that had originally published Wakefield’s report, in 2010. Soon after, Wakefield was barred from practicing medicine in the UK.

The Facts About Autism and Vaccines

Despite the retraction of the report, its main takeaway, that vaccines cause autism, continues to cause fear among the public, and vaccination rates declined significantly in many states since the early 2000s across the nation. While Wakefield’s report is no longer supported, “anti-vaxxers” – including celebrities- continue to promote the notion that vaccines are dangerous.

“More recently, refusing vaccination has become a trend among myriad affluent communities throughout the United States, where it is seen as part of a wider movement to limit the amount of “toxins” to which a child is exposed.” –

Vaccinations are incredibly important, not just for the health of your child, but for the health of others your child comes in contact with. There are some children who, due to medical problems or illnesses, cannot get vaccinated. They rely on those around them to be vaccinated, lessening the chances that they will be exposed to a harmful disease.

“In 2014 there was a record high number of measles cases (668) since the disease was considered eliminated in 2000, with researchers placing the blame on declining vaccination rates.” –

The measles outbreak at Disneyland in 2015 was a noteworthy example of what happens when lower vaccination rates affect the health of others, including young children who have not yet reached the ages for various vaccines and people unable to get vaccinated who rely on the vaccinations of others to protect them.

“In fact, a recent study in JAMA Pediatrics( suggests that the vaccination rate among people exposed to measles during the recent Disneyland outbreak was less than 86 percent at best and may have been as low as 50 percent. To establish herd immunity against the measles, a population’s vaccination rate must be at least 96 percent. Thus, the outbreak spread to 145 people in seven states, as well as to others in Canada and Mexico.” –

Know The Truth About Vaccinations & Help Tell Others

It’s important that vaccination rates remain high in our communities. Vaccinations prevent diseases and illnesses such as:

  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Influenza
  • Measles
  • Meningococcal Disease
  • Mumps
  • Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
  • Rubella
  • Shingles
  • Tetanus (Lockjaw)

… and many more! You can learn more about the importance of childhood vaccines on the CDC’s website, and find the recommended schedules of immunizations at the following links: children 0-18 years; preteens and teens 7-18 years; adults 19 and older.

We hope that this blog post has eased your concerns about vaccinations and autism. You can help us raise awareness that vaccines do not cause autism by educating your family members and friends. Together, we can make our communities healthier.